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The Mann Cup: Canada's signature lacrosse event

The First Nations began playing the sport more than 500 years ago. Today lacrosse not only remains an integral part of native culture, but is played by thousands of people across Canada. From its origin as 'The Creator's Game' to the overwhelming popularity of the Toronto Rock and the modern game, lacrosse has survived the test of time after treading down a long, controversial path that led it to become recognized as Canada's official national sport.

"Good afternoon sport fans," begins Bill Good's Sports Commentary in this CBC Radio clip from 1943. With that placid introduction out of the way, Good goes on to regale listeners with the remarkable story of how the New Westminster Salmonbellies have defeated the Mimico-Brampton Combines in the final of lacrosse's Mann Cup. Good makes no apologies for making the Mann Cup final the top story of his broadcast, explaining: "Canada's national game deserves front-page prominence on any sport program or any sport page." 
. The Mann Cup still serves as Canada's Senior Amateur Lacrosse championship, pitting the champions of the Ontario Lacrosse Association versus the Western Lacrosse Association in an annual final. The Toronto Youngs won the first Mann Cup in 1910, claiming the championship trophy donated by Sir Donald Mann, the chief architect of the Canadian Northern Railway. The competition was played under field lacrosse rules until 1935 when box lacrosse took over.

. The Salmonbellies outshot the Combines by a 50-33 margin, but still lost game one of the 1943 final by a score of 10-9. New Westminster evened the series a few days later with a 10-5 victory, and then went on to win the next two games to capture the championship. Bill Wilkes was the star for the Salmonbellies in the final game, scoring five goals while teammate Jim Douglas added three.

. Contrary to Bill Good's comments in this clip and the popular belief long-held in Canada, lacrosse wasn't officially recognized as our national game at the time. In a 1989 interview with CBC Radio's Morningside, sports historian Bill Humber dispelled the myth. He explained that the falsehood grew out of a fictitious tale of how George Beers successfully lobbied Parliament to recognize lacrosse as Canada's national sport.

. On Feb. 8, 1994, Nelson Riis (then an NDP member of Parliament) introduced Bill C-212 in the House of Commons to recognize hockey as Canada's national sport. The bill was later amended to include lacrosse and on May 12 it was passed into law, recognizing "Hockey as Canada's National Winter Sport, and Lacrosse as Canada's National Summer Sport." The decree is known as Canada's National Sport Act.

. The other national lacrosse tournament is the Minto Cup, Canada's Junior Amateur Lacrosse championship. The original trophy was donated by Lord Minto, then Canada's Governor General, on May 31, 1901.
Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: Oct. 27, 1943
Host: Bill Good
Duration: 2:30
Photo: William T. Cooksley/National Archives of Canada/ PA-029724

Last updated: March 7, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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